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Clinical Characteristics and Longitudinal Changes of Informal Cost of Alzheimer's Disease in the Community

Zhu, Carolyn W.; Scarmeas, Nikolaos; Torgan, Rebecca L.; Albert, Marilyn; Brandt, Jason; Blacker, Deborah; Sano, Mary; Stern, Yaakov

Most estimates of the cost of informal caregiving in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) remain cross-sectional. Longitudinal estimates of informal caregiving hours and costs are less frequent and are from assessments covering only short periods of time. The objectives of this study were to estimate long-term trajectories of the use and cost of informal caregiving for patients with AD and the effects of patient characteristics on the use and cost of informal caregiving. The sample is drawn from the Predictors Study, a large, multicenter cohort of patients with probable AD, prospectively followed annually for up to 7 years in three university-based AD centers in the United States (n=170). Generalized linear mixed models were used to estimate the effects of patient characteristics on use and cost of informal caregiving. Patients' clinical characteristics included cognitive status (Mini-Mental State Examination), functional capacity (Blessed Dementia Rating Scale (BDRS)), comorbidities, psychotic symptoms, behavioral problems, depressive symptoms, and extrapyramidal signs. Results show that rates of informal care use and caregiving hours (and costs) increased substantially over time but were related differently to patients' characteristics. Use of informal care was significantly associated with worse cognition, worse function, and higher comorbidities. Conditional on receiving informal care, informal caregiving hours (and costs) were mainly associated with worse function. Each additional point on the BDRS increased informal caregiving costs 5.4%. Average annual informal cost was estimated at $25,381 per patient, increasing from $20,589 at baseline to $43,030 in Year 4.


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Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

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February 22, 2018